That's where Macauley Lerman lives, alongside the subjects and muses of his photographs, out on the fringes of society. Angels with dirty faces take up the spaces of his frame, whose moth-bitten and tarnished clothes document their travels and tell the story of their lives. Then there's Lerman himself, capturing it all, immortalising tales with the flick of a switch.
In Lerman's portraits, of both life and landscape, the static images are underpinned with a kinetic form of movement. That is, something not in motion, but with the capability to be, and in the faces of the people - the yearning desire. Jack Kerouac in his biblical tale of travel On The Road optimistically looked at what the future holds:
"Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me."
This pearl, the perfect person or moment or thing manifests as an itch within the souls of people who are restless and eager. Lerman is one of them and so are the people he painstakingly captures. Not only does he capture them though, he first understands them and through his naturalistic portraits, explains them away to the world, so we can too.
That process, or style, comes largely down to Lerman's education in photography. Before he used a camera, he captured images in his head as he travelled around America, documenting his time on the road in the rose-hued manner of memory. Hazy focus and blurred edges seem to have informed his preferred style - true reflections of stories held in our minds. These imperfections seem spontaneous enough never to lose the feeling of being shot from the hip, or at least in mid-flow of a conversation of 'moment'.
Embracing the folkloric tradition of the hobo, hopping freights and hitchhiking, Lerman saw America without the pretences of planned travel, tickets or queues. His viewpoint was sharpened on ground-level, where the earth meets the sky, a horizon that never gets closer, yet is always within touching distance. Living like that puts you at your own crossroads between dreamer and doer. Experiencing life so closely leaves its own indelible mark. People are no longer the clothes they wear or the bars they drink in.
Honesty is another defining characteristic of the photographs, where his subjects don't feel the need to perform any airs and graces, but be captured as they are. As such, by examining people in this way and in their relationship to their environment, Lerman acts as a kind of anthropologist with ethnographic documentation in mind, as if capturing these subcultures can in some way keep them alive, which in essence, is true.
Lerman's attention has turned to projects with farmers aiding in the rejuvenation of agriculture and transient lives settled in an impromptu community called Greer Road. The narrative value behind the projects contain a hefty dose of romance, with lives inextricable linked to the people and land around them. In Greer Road, Lerman is reflective, documenting a three-year-old commune for retired nomads in Alaska. It resonates with his own young self, who grew up on the road but has similarly chosen to settle down.
The founder, his friend Nate, built the community with a settlement for a work-related injury on a fishing boat. With that money, Nate planned to stay still, but likewise not entirely distance himself from his roots. Lerman used his personal experiences together with Nate, and his process of growth as a photographer, to highlight the spirit of the place and the wandering characters it contains.
Above all else, whether farming or in recently established communes, hope is held high like a banner throughout all of Lermand's images, blowing freely in the Alaskan breeze. They're triumphant depictions of lives that were never satisfied with what they have, but always searching for something more - a brighter sunset, a livelier face, fresher waters.
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